By: Darlene Staheli
What is the number one food missing on the plates of most people today? Would you be surprised to learn it was something simple to find, relatively easy to grow, inexpensive to buy, and best of all, easy to prepare? If you answered vegetables, you’re right! If you answered green vegetables, you are very wise. If you answered dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, you are a nutrition rock star!
So, what are these amazing green things we should be putting in our mouths? There are so many to choose from and they come in differing shapes, sizes, and flavors. Below are a few of these wonderful veggies.
-Dark leafy greens include spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, dandelion, endive, chicory lettuce, swiss chard, and beet and turnip greens.
-Cruciferous, dark leafy greens include broccoli, kale, collard greens, bok choy, watercress, arugula, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, napa cabbage, and kohlrabi.
-Some non-green cruciferous veggies include radish, daikon radish, turnips, cauliflower, and beets.
So why is eating dark green leafy vegetables so important? They:
-Are loaded with thousands of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals)which include: calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, and K–all of which increase energy.
-Are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and antioxidants that protect us from free radicals (the bad guys).
-Build our internal rainforest, the good flora, and fauna needed for a healthy intestinal tract.
-Strengthen and purify the blood, respiratory, and immune system.
-Improve liver, gall bladder, and kidney function.
-Clear congestion, especially in lungs, by reducing mucus.
-Balance acidic conditions caused by the environment.
-Aid in weight loss by helping you feel satiated.
-Lower the risk for certain types of cancer.
Bottom line, green leafy veggies increase our ENERGY, endurance, brain function, and overall health. Let me introduce you to one of my clients, Natalie, a 35-year-old, mother of four children. Natalie was frustrated! Her energy had bottomed out; she was gaining weight and just didn’t feel good. Her dietary habits consisted mainly of drive-through and fast pre-packaged meals. I introduced her to the world of green leafy vegetables and challenged her to eat at least one serving every day. Natalie was very compliant and after just 2 weeks she lost 5 pounds and had gained so much energy. She had enough energy for her family and was excited to tackle things that had been on her to-do list for a while. So simple, yet so powerful.
Dark green leafy and cruciferous veggies can be prepared in many ways. They can be enjoyed raw, made into salads, and even delicious sauces. They can be steamed, sautéed, added to soups and stews, and dehydrated (think yummy kale chips). They can also be blended together with other fruits and veggies for a refreshing smoothie. Do you want to feel better and more energized? Be a nutrition rock star! Take the challenge to increase your greens by at least one serving each day. Time to get energized! Get the greens! Eat the greens!